Woody climbers, sometimes vines, rarely small succulent trees, hermaphroditic or polygamo-monoecious to polygamo-dioecious. Stems unarmed, sometimes with conspicuous lenticels, or bark sometimes shredding (in most species of Vitis); branches often swollen at 3-7-lacunar nodes; pith continuous or interrupted by diaphragms at nodes; tendrils simple, bifurcate to trifurcate, or 4-12-branched (in Parthenocissus), usually leaf-opposed, rarely tendrils absent. Raphide sacs present in parenchymatous tissues. Leaves simple, lobed or unlobed, or digitately or pedately compound to 1-3-pinnately compound, alternate, distichous, variously toothed, commonly with multicellular, stalked, caducous spherical structures known as "pearl" glands; stipules 2 or rarely absent, often caducous. Flowers small, with prophylls, in panicles, corymbs, or rarely spikes, often leaf-opposite, pseudo-terminal, or axillary (in Cayratia and Tetrastigma), actinomorphic, hypogynous, 4- or 5(-7 as in Rhoicissus)-merous. Calyx with 4 or 5(-7) small teeth or lobes or a continuous ring. Petals valvate, 4 or 5(-7), free or basally connate, or distally connate forming a calyptra (e.g., in Vitis). Stamens 4 or 5(-7), antepetalous; anthers introrse, dehiscing longitudinally, tetrasporangiate or rarely bisporangiate. Floral disk intrastaminal, ring-shaped, cupular, or gland-shaped. Ovary superior, 2-loculed; ovules 2 per locule; placentation axile, appearing nearly basal, apotropous or anatropous, bitegmic, crassinucellar; style simple, connate; stigma discoid or capitate, rarely 4-lobed (Tetrastigma), not papillate. Fruit a berry, 1-4-seeded. Seeds endotestal, with an abaxial chalazal knot and an adaxial raphe with 2 furrows, one on each side; embryo straight, small; endosperm oily, proteinaceous, copious, ruminate.
Vines or lianas, occasionally shrubby [trees], synoecious, dioecious, or polygamomonoecious; commonly with multicellular, stalked, caducous, spheric structures (pearl glands); tendrils usually present, rarely absent. Leaves alternate, simple or palmately or pinnately compound; stipules present; petiole present; blade often palmately lobed, margins dentate, serrate, or crenate; venation palmate or pinnate. Inflorescences bisexual or functionally unisexual, axillary or terminal and appearing leaf-opposed, cymes or thryses [spikes]. Flowers bisexual or unisexual; perianth and androecium hypogynous; hypanthium absent; sepals 4–5(–9), connate most or all of length; petals (3–)4–5(–9), distinct (connate distally, forming calyptra, in Vitis) [connate basally], valvate, free; nectary intrastaminal; stamens (3–)4–5(–9), opposite petals, distinct; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits; staminodes present in functionally pistillate flowers; pistil 1, 2[–3]-carpellate, ovary superior, 2[–3]-locular, placentation axile, sometimes appearing parietal; ovules 2 per locule, apotropous or anatropous; style 1; stigma 1 . Fruits berries. Seeds 1–4 per fruit.
SELECTED REFERENCES Brizicky, G. K. 1965. The genera of Vitaceae in the southeastern United States. J. Arnold Arbor. 46: 48–67. Ren, H. et al. 2011. Phylogenetic analysis of the grape family (Vitaceae) based on the noncoding plastid trnC-petN, trnH-psbA, and trnL-F sequences. Taxon 60: 629–637. Soejima, A. and Wen J. 2006. Phylogenetic analysis of the grape family (Vitaceae) based on three chloroplast markers. Amer. J. Bot. 93: 278-287. Wen, J. 2007. Vitaceae. In: K. Kubitzki et al., eds. 1990+. The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. 10+ vols. Berlin etc. Vol. 9, pp. 467–479.
Jun Wen "Vitaceae A. L. Jussieu in Flora of North America @ efloras.org" eFlora. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA., 2017. Web. Accessed February 2018.